Driverless buses to be rolled out on Singapore’s roads by 2020


Driverless buses could arrive on Singapore roads by 2020, following the signing of a partnership agreement between the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and ST Kinetics to develop and trial these buses on Monday (Apr 10). 

Two 40-seater electric buses are likely to be tested in locations such the National University of Singapore (NUS) campus and Jurong Island. The buses will gradually be introduced to other trial sites, and eventually extended to public roads within and between towns.

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The buses will use a satellite-based global positioning system (GPS) and sensors to scan and determine their location and immediate surroundings. They will also have radars and sonars that are able to detect other vehicles and pedestrians up to 200m ahead.

ST Kinetics is also working to improve the buses’ ability to navigate during heavy rain, up from the current 10mm of rain an hour to 30mm an hour

The ST Kinetics agreement is the fourth such agreement signed by LTA, following partnerships with the Energy Research Institute @ NTU, Delphi and nuTonomy, said the agency.

Company president Dr Lee Shiang Long said this effort differs from other autonomous vehicle projects by serving public transport requirements rather than private, car-based solutions.

On safety concerns, Dr Lee said the project will tap cybersecurity experts from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, NUS and Singapore University of Technology and Design. They will conduct vulnerability analysis and penetration testing to make sure that key components in the system are protected, and ensure the safety of passengers, he said.

Parent company ST Engineering also announced on Monday it will develop four Mobility-on-Demand-Vehicles (MODVs) with Sentosa Development Corp and the Ministry of Transport.

The four vehicles, each seating around 15 to 20 passengers, are expected to be deployed next year. Visitors to Sentosa will be able to call for the MODVs with their mobile devices or information kiosks located around the island.

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